Love does not boast. In continuing through this passage one descriptor of love at a time, we come across boasting. In reading this word again, I quietly thank God that I’m not boastful as it’s something that was emphasized my entire childhood. In fact, every time I hear mention of the word I say a little prayer in my head thanking God that I don’t have to worry about this. And then it hit me. This is boasting. As innocent as it seems, it simply isn’t.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” — Luke 18:10–14
It’s a matter of the heart. As you see in this parable, the Pharisee wasn’t making a single claim out loud, rather in his heart he was boasting to God. Maybe for us it’s not as pronounced, or not about our worshiping, but I’m sure there’s something down there we’re boasting about. Obviously, for me it’s humility, but what is it for you? And if you’re thinking you’re a pretty humble person, then I’m willing to bet that’s it right there. Come on, be honest with yourself. Take a minute to figure out an area where you’re boasting currently.
Capture that thought. Compared to whom are we better in this particular area? Why do we need to be better than this person? What is riding on this identity? In other words, why are we feeling the need to inflate our own ego in order to feel more important? Who told you you weren’t enough on your own? Shame on them! Shame on you for believing! Do you not know who you are?
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” — Romans 8:15–17
We are all children. We’re children of God chosen to be adopted and take on His holy name through Christ’s redemption of our sins. Even though a sinner, God thought you worthy. Are you any less worthy now? Now that you have chosen to draw nearer to Him, He who knows you inside and out, could He find you less worthy? Lay down this ugly shroud of boastfulness. Cast it aside and allow your Father to embrace you and love you for who you are. It wasn’t too ugly before and it’s not now.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” — II Corinthians 12:9–10
Boasting is falsely inflating our egos at the expense of our neighbor. How can we love in this way? Indeed we can’t, but to move in the right direction we first have to look carefully at the cause or causes that bring about our need to inflate. What convinced us we were unworthy, ugly and in need of justifying our value? We are precious in God’s eyes and that matters more than the opinions of all six billion-plus people on this earth. We have been called worthy of spending eternity with God. What more could we ask? Therefore, if we are to boast, let us boast in all He has done and continues to do. It is only because of Him that we have come as far as we have today. Let us be thankful in our remembrance that love doesn’t boast.